The Demons in Our Lives by Gargi Mehra

Three years ago, I returned from a badminton match coughing and sputtering like an old man on his deathbed. A severe cough had taken hold of me and wracked my body. I spent the whole day in intense discomfort. Home remedies like steaming and lemon-honey-ginger barely alleviated symptoms.

The following week I visited the doctor and he recommended a slew of tests, one of which would help to detect if I had, of all things, tuberculosis (TB).

The TB test involved injecting a liquid in the forearm, and checking the affected area after forty-eight hours, during which I was not supposed to expose it to water or anything else.

I spent the next two days in mental agony. The suspense of whether I had TB or not was killing me. I stole glances at my forearm in every meeting, conversation or visit to the washroom.

The area became slightly raised and red but nothing worse. When I returned to the clinic, the doctor there examined the bump, and actually placed a scale on my arm to determine the radius of the affected swollenness.

Did I have TB? His conclusion – I did and I didn’t.

To be precise, the results indicated I might have had TB or something like it in the past, leaving behind a minor chest infection that would act up every so often, especially during season changes that rendered even the average person susceptible to flu and me doubly so.

He told me it was called the Mantoux test.

I went home and googled furiously. My research revealed that the Mantoux test was established in 1935, and was still the most reliable way to detect TB. It boggled my mind that with all the advancements in medicine and technology, we had not yet discovered a more foolproof reliable way to detect TB other than a test that might be incorrectly interpreted.

To my satisfaction however, my forearm did not resemble those of the afflicted patients. Later as I sat in the doctor’s chambers while he wrote out a series of medicines for my treatment, the thought kept running through my head – what else could such a test be used for?

I thought it would be funny if it was used for something other than to detect a disease, and after a little brainstorming, I hit upon the storyline for The Mantoux test. In the story, a young man suspects his wife of infidelity and approaches a tech-savvy godman to help him confirm his suspicions. The results are of course not what he expects.

The harrowing experience that followed my cough had at least this positive outcome – it sowed the seed for my story. I had great fun writing it, and I hope readers enjoy it too!



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Gargi Mehra is a software professional by day, a writer by night and a mother of two. She writes fiction and humor in an effort to unite the two sides of the brain in cerebral harmony. Her work has appeared in numerous literary magazines online and in print.



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2 Comments Add yours

  1. It sounded scary, I am sure and makes me wonder how the traces remain and agree with time, we need to find a modern way in testing. I can’t wait to read your short story Gargi.


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